Telstra sale deferred until 2003

The Federal Government's decision to defer the sale of the rest of Telstra until at least 2003/04 was a victory for the bush, National Party Senator Ron Boswell said today.

The government is reportedly anxious to defuse any antiprivatisation campaign by the opposition ahead of the next federal election and will be announcing its response to the Besley inquiry into telecommuncations in coming weeks.

"By the time we implemented what Besley required and made sure that that was working, it would have taken it [the sale process] very close to the election," Senator Boswell said.

Media reports have claimed a special Cabinet meeting has deferred the sale of the government's 50.1 per cent stake in Telstra until at least 2003/4 and the sale's proceeds have been removed from budget forward estimates for the first time since the Coalition was elected in 1996.

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